CHICAGO - Those rolling up their sleeves to get the coronavirus vaccine are about to get younger.
United States regulators on Monday expanded the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children as young as 12-years-old.
The Food and Drug Administration declared that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and offers strong protection for younger teens based on the testing of more than 2,000 US volunteers ages 12 to 15. Shots could begin as soon as Thursday.
But after the FDA approval, there is another hurdle. Many parents are hesitant.
Recent data from Kaiser Family Foundation shows just three in ten parents of children ages 12-15 say they will get their child vaccinated as soon as a vaccine is available.
"I think people need to know that this vaccine is safe, it's very effective and it's the only way that we're going to be able to control this pandemic," says Dr. Tina Tan of Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Doctor Tan says the side effects are the same for kids as in adults, but the effectiveness of the vaccine is higher.
"I think this is a ray of hope in our ability to really control this pandemic and get back to more of a normal situation," said Dr. Tan.
Jillyn O’Shea says she already had her 16 and 19-year-olds vaccinated, with no hesitation.
"I trust the science. I think it’s safe and I think it’s good for everyone," she said. "We all are in this together."
Doctors say another selling point is that vaccinated kids can return to many activities and get some of their freedom back.
"I feel like that’s going to just give us a little bit more freedom for the kids to get out there," said Dr. Hansa Bhargava, pediatrician and Senior Medical Director at WebMD. "They’ve been definitely somewhat deprived this year with online school and cancelation of activities."
Associated Press contributed to this report.